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Should you take your phone to the beach?

Let’s face it, the only foolproof way to protect your phone from beach-related hazards is to leave it at home. While this might work if you’re heading out for a quick dip or committing to a digital detox, it isn’t practical most of the time.

After all, what’s a day at the beach without music, selfies and a leisurely scroll through the socials? More importantly, what if there’s an emergency and you can't be reached?

Nowadays, leaving home without a phone is like leaving home without pants – only a brave few dare risk it! These tips won’t guarantee your phone’s safety, but they'll give you peace of mind that you tried your best.

Back up and charge it

Nothing ruins a day at the beach quite like losing your phone and realising you don’t have a recent backup.

It's bad enough having to get a new device but losing app data along with the precious photos and videos stored on your phone? Not on your watch.

Get on the front foot and make sure your phone is backed up before you head out.

With an iPhone, you can make a backup on your computer or use iCloud to schedule daily backups. The good news is, the first 5GB is free so you can turn on iCloud Photos to save your photos and videos automatically.

The same idea applies to backing up a Samsung device – back up to your computer or Samsung Cloud and automatically save your photos and videos using Google Photos.

While you're thinking about backing up your phone, think about charging it too.

Don't get caught out with a dead battery just as the whale breaches or the kids stand still for a rare family photo. It might be worth adding a portable charger to your collection of beach accessories. 

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Tech for a great day at the beach
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Keep it clean

Greasy sunscreen, leaky water bottles and melting ice-cream – how do you protect your phone from the splashes, drips and spills that are part of the glorious beach experience?

You could try popping your phone in a resealable bag, a popular and cost-effective choice that offers basic protection while letting you use your phone, sticky hands and all.

Keep in mind that the humble sandwich bag is not 100% waterproof and the seal can lose its grip as the day wears on. Plus, if you keep opening and closing the bag, grains of sand can get in and wreak havoc.

Keep it dry: water-resistant vs waterproof

When it comes to phones, it's important to remember that 'water-resistant' does not equal 'waterproof'.

A phone with a water resistance rating of IP67 or IP68 may survive being dropped in shallow water (and quickly retrieved), but that doesn't mean it can withstand being submerged for long periods of time.

Water resistance ratings apply to submersion in freshwater - so think twice about taking your phone into the ocean or pool.

Always check the manufacturer's instructions before diving in without proper protection.

If you're super keen to take underwater snaps or have your phone with you while swimming, you might consider getting a waterproof pouch. Go for an armband design or a lanyard to hang around your neck. Look for a pouch that’s 100% waterproof and that floats if you accidentally drop it. Also, check the specs to make sure it’s the right size for your phone.

The JOTO Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch has a ton of great reviews and may be worth checking out – it has a clear window on both sides so you can take pictures or videos and even check email if you need to.

Water-resistant iPhones from Telstra

It's not surprising that the latest iPhones are top of the list when it comes to water resistance - they can handle splashes and spills (but don't take them into the ocean unprotected).

iPhone 11 Pro Max  - front and back

iPhone 11 Pro Max

A triple camera system, water-resistant up to 4 metres for 30 minutes, the fastest chip in a smartphone, and up to 5 hours more battery life.
iPhone 11 - front and back

iPhone 11

Faster Face ID, water-resistant up to 2 metres for up to 30 minutes, highest quality video, and fastest chip in a smartphone, plus all day battery life.
iPhone SE - front and back

iPhone SE

4.7-inch Retina HD display. Speed and security of Touch ID. Water-resistant up to 1 metre for 30 minutes. All in a slim, light design.

Keep it sand free

Getting sand in your phone ports is as painful as it sounds and if you spend a lot of time at the beach, you might want to think about getting dust plugs. Made of metal or silicone, these plugs slide into your device’s earphone and charging jacks to stop sand or moisture from getting in. Do a search for 'dust plugs' and you'll find a range of choices - from the highly practical to the super stylish.

What if you already have a sand problem?

The team at Apple recommend that you unplug and turn off your phone, then wipe it down with a lens cloth (using warm soapy water if you need) but avoid getting moisture in the openings and don't use cleaning products or compressed air.

Be careful with the invasive sand-removal remedies you find online, they can do more harm than good.

When it comes to sand damage, prevention is better than a cure.  Before you hit the beach, put your phone in a waterproof/sandproof pouch and keep it there.

Internet on the go

Want a hotspot for your tablet and other devices? Get a mobile broadband device on a 12 or 24 month payment term and add it to a month-to-month data plan.

Keep it hidden

Protecting your phone from the elements is one thing but protecting it from petty thieves is something else.

You know the dilemma, you’re dying for a swim but there’s no one around to look after your valuables. If you’re willing to take the risk, here are a few ideas for hiding your phone while you take a quick dip:

  • Get a towel with a hidden pocket – you can choose one with a simple flap or go all out and get one with a waterproof zippered pouch. Keeping your phone in a hidden pocket may be enough to derail opportunistic thieves, making it harder for them to grab and go. 
  • Get creative with disguises - there are plenty of inventive ways to hide a phone! Cut the bottom out of a (clean and empty) sunscreen container and put your phone inside. Disguise your phone in a hollowed-out book, pop it in an esky (as long as it's not too cold) or hide it in a nappy bag.
  • Get serious about storage – take things up a notch with an anti-theft tote or backpack. Look for one with puncture-proof pockets, a hidden combination lock and straps you can fasten to a beach umbrella or lounge chair.   

Of course, none of these measures can fully protect your phone from being stolen, so think twice before leaving your valuables unattended.

Keep it cool

According to Apple, using an iOS device in very hot conditions can permanently shorten battery life - and an iPhone should be stored where the temperature is between -20° and 45°.

Though it seems like a safe option, don’t leave your phone in the car because temperatures can rise quickly and easily exceed the recommended range.

When your phone overheats it might start to charge more slowly, the display may dim and you may even get a warning message.  Act quickly - turn it off, head for the shade and let your poor phone cool down.

Never leave your device lying around in direct sunlight and avoid playing graphics-intensive video games in hot conditions.

Cut the glare

The sun bouncing off the sand and sea can make it especially tricky to see things on your phone and, if you're wearing sunglasses, the situation can get even worse - especially if you have an older phone.

It has to do with the polarisation - both your sunglasses and your phone use polarising filters and they tend to cancel each other out. Try turning your screen 90° in either direction to remedy the situation.

Otherwise, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sitting under an umbrella or investing in an anti-glare screen protector may help.

Better yet, give your eyes a rest and listen to music, audiobooks or the crashing waves.

Hard to see phone screen in bright sunlight

Ditch the phone and take your smartwatch

Circling back to the idea of leaving your phone at home, maybe you should take your smartwatch instead. The latest cellular smartwatches use your mobile data to let you stream, text, make calls and use apps – pretty much everything your phone can do.

There are quite a few benefits to this approach:

  • Unlike your phone, a smartwatch is attached to your wrist so it’s less likely to get lost or stolen.
  • It’s easier to hear (or feel) when someone is trying to get in touch, and you don’t have to rummage around in bags and under towels to take the call.
  • You can clock up serious exercise points with all your beachcombing, paddling and sand-castle building - the latest watches let you keep track of health vitals too.

If you’re worried that your watch might get scratched or waterlogged,  you can pick out a case to protect it. A good place to start is the Catalyst Case for Apple Watch which has a waterproof rating of IP68 and is made from rugged scratch-proof material.

Telstra One Number

Share your mobile number with your smartwatch. Call, text and stream without having to carry your phone with you. Add it to your plan for just $5 month-to-month.

Relax and enjoy!

Now that your phone is safe, you can chill out and soak up the beach vibes. Pump up the tunes, build a sandcastle, play some beach cricket or kick back with your favourite book.

Share your 'beach readiness' tips with friends and relatives - they're bound to be impressed!

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